At no other time of the year is retail shopping discussed as much as in the lead-up to the Christmas period. Interactive store windows, inspirational collective catalogues, omni-channel marketing, online shopping and showrooming are just some of the concepts being talked about (implemented in some cases) by marketers who have had to adapt strategies quicker than ever.
Globally, the retailers embracing change have benefitted by reaching more customers and making existing ones into brand loyalists. Take the case of Walmart which, instead of fighting ‘showrooming’ with consumers trying out products in-store and buying them online, integrated it into their shopping experience by offering apps and tools consumers could use in-store.
Embracing a digital strategy is important, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of shaping your consumer’s in-store experience. In fact, brands should be focusing on in-store more than ever; especially as consumer expectations are greater to match the higher price they pay for products.
To anyone questioning the relevance and importance of in-store marketing today, I ask this – which avenue presents more marketing and brand engagement opportunity? Consumers at home or shoppers standing in front of your product? Point-of-purchase (POP) is still an untapped potential for marketers. It isn’t too often you hear of a marketing strategy led by POP and in-store marketing. It still forms a support function for the above-the-line and other marketing functions, despite the fact that most purchasing decisions are made in-store.
In my view, following key factors are essential to delivering successful in-store experiences in today’s market – over Christmas and beyond:
Don’t be price sensitive: In many cases, pricing seems to be the obvious and first step to combating online retail and to reigning in a cost conscious customer. But, marketers need to question the relevance of a strategy driven solely by price and short term sales. Look at how it impacts long term brand value and explore alternative strategies such as product bundling that considers consumer needs.
Spruce up your silent salesperson: In a point-of-purchase world, the ‘silent salesperson’ can be your loudest voice on the floor. The generic description of the term ‘silent salesperson’ applies to packaging, displays, signs or promotional products designed to increase sales and profits. During peak periods, a well designed and relevant ‘silent salesperson’ provides an invaluable sales advantage by giving shoppers personal brand experience that differentiates in-store purchases to online shopping where they can’t touch and feel the product. And in the case of products where the sale process involves consumer education, the ‘silent salesperson’ can help engage consumers and act as questions filter to on-ground staff – thus ensuring time is spent on most the valuable leads.
Use technology to build a community of brand loyalists: In the digital age, empowered shoppers research purchases prior to store visit. They shop with an agenda and a clear idea of expectations. This gives marketers the opportunity to convince shoppers to not just change their mind and pick up their product, but also engage with the brand to become a loyalist. Explore, learn and see how technologies like augmented reality, QR codes and near field communication can help enhance your customer’s in-store experience.
Shoppers are in the driving seat, so work with them to provide the best tools that make their journey fun and memorable – but most importantly, lucrative for you.
Deane Hubball is CEO, Creative Instore Solutions